I do not own Harry Potter or any of it's affiliated merchandising. I do not make any money off this usage of those properties.
Author Note: This bunny sprung up several months ago, and I actually got around to writing it up at about 3am one morning recently while trying to get my six month old daughter to go back to sleep. :-)
Harry had spent the last fortnight of the summer break cloistered in Dudley's second bedroom.
Oh, sure, he had replied to mail, and sent off missives to the Order of the fried Turkey; but the bulk of his time had been spent alone in his room with the door barred against entry.
It had been this way ever since the trip to Diagon Alley for school supplies for his Sixth year. He had met up with the Weasley's and Hermione, and escorted by half the flaming Order, had completed most of his shopping before needing to visit Gringotts.
Two Weeks Before…
"Hang on guys, I still need to stop at Madame Malkin's," Harry was fingering his quite depleted coin pouch.
Ron rolled his eyes, "Why would you want to go there? And anyway, it's back that way."
"Yeah, but Gringotts is this way, and I'm down to a handful of sickles," Harry pocketed his pouch and led his entourage to the Bank. "Do you think I could get some privacy here?" He glared at his minders.
"Go ahead Harry. Tonks and Remus will wait for you in the foyer, the rest of us will be out here," Kingsley Shacklebolt shooed the three into the bank before sending half his people down the way a bit to Florean Fortescues.
As soon as he crossed the threshold into the bank itself, Harry staggered.
"You alright there Harry?" Tonks grabbed his arm to steady him.
Blinking to clear his suddenly blurry vision, Harry suddenly found himself face to face with a large monument. A huge golden monolith squatting dead centre in the middle of the open foyer, halfway up it there was a tattered flag draped around it. A faded red flag, in the centre of which sat a stained white circle. In the circle was a symbol whose presence made Harry gasp in shock.
Both Tonks and Lupin had by this time noticed Harry's shock, but neither could discern a source for it.
"Harry? You're blocking the doorway. Remus, help me move him." Tonks had seen several goblins looking in their direction and muttering to each other.
The two of them started to move him, when a goblin stepped in front of them. "What is the meaning of this disturbance?"
Harry was still staring at the flag, "I didn't see that last time I was here."
The goblins eyes narrowed, it's voice growing harsh, "See what, wizard?"
Harry pinned the goblin with his gaze, his own eyes narrowing, "Since when has Gringotts been associated with the Naz…"
The goblins eyes flew open, and with uncharacteristic speed slapped a hand over Harry's mouth, "Forgive the intrusion into your personal space, but you have an immediate meeting with Manager Ragnok to attend. Please save your questions for him and follow me with all haste."
Harry nodded, and was released by the goblin. "Lead on."
Tonks and Remus shared a nervous look as they watched Harry disappear into the Bank.
Harry followed the goblin into an opulently appointed office.
The goblin behind the desk, garbed in gilded armour, was reviewing a file before being interrupted by the unannounced arrival of one of his underlings and a young human. "What is the meaning of this, do-koglt'n?"
The goblin accompanying Harry knelt down, pressing its forehead to the floor, "Forgive my disruption of the flow, but this wizard has seen the Monolith of Portent."
"Is this true, wizard? Tell me what you saw." Ragnok's eyes appeared to fade into the shadows of his prodigious brow, faintly twinkling lights could be seen deep within if one were to get close enough to perceive them.
Harry stared in surprise, gathering his wits about him he replied, "I saw a great obelisk of gold, and halfway up it was a flag. A Nazi flag. Red with a black swastika inside a white circle."
Ragnok slumped back in his chair, "After all these years." He shook his head, "Who are you? I would know the name of the hero that stands before me."
Harry blinked a couple of times, "I am Harry James Potter." He frowned. "But I am no hero."
"Have a seat, it is time for a brief history lesson." A comfortable chair rose out of the floor.
Harry raised an eyebrow, but seated himself.
"In the early 1880's two men met in the Italian city of Genoa and began a series of dialogs. The first man was a muggle by the name of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. The second man was Heinrich Luitpold Himmler, or as he came to be known in the wizarding world, Grindewaldt." He paused to gauge Harry's reaction before continuing. "Their discussions led Grindewaldt to develop a whole new view of reality, and to delve into the blackest of the dark arts. It was Grindewaldt who created the Cruciatus curse."
Harry's eyes widened at this.
"Grindwaldt gathered about him the largest collection of powerful wizards that has ever walked the Earth. Where he found so many wizards of such power is unknown. Although rumour had it that he empowered them as part of his great plan." Ragnok leant forward, "During the final days of the war, not long before his death at the hands of the brothers Dumbledore, Grindewaldt came here. He placed that monolith, and wrapped that flag around it. And he gave into our care, this box." The old goblin caressed the rich mahogany box that had just been brought to him by a pair of heavily armed goblins.
"What does this have to do with me?"
"His instructions were to deliver this box into the hands of the one who would complete his work." The goblin's piercing gaze fixed on Harry for a long moment, "That one is you. That you could perceive the monolith is proof of that."
Harry almost fell out of his chair, "Wh-what? I'm not a Dark Lord. I'm not a Nazi. I don't want anything to do with this."
"Then take it and destroy it. But take it you must, lest my people face total ruin." He pushed the box towards the young wizard.
"But. But." Harry's thoughts caught up to him, "Ruin?"
"Yes. Ruin. Grindewaldt laid a mighty doom upon our race, should we fail in our duty. The monolith's gold has already been broken down and transferred to your vaults." He nodded to himself. "He spoke to me at length about his plans. I weary of this world, and am glad to finally meet the one who will bring an end to the darkness that it has sunk into. Now take the box, and leave."
The goblin who had brought Harry to the room helped him to his feet, pushed the box into his hands, and hustled him out of the room.
On his way back across the bank, a goblin stopped them, handing Harry a small sack of galleons, "Ragnok wants your removal from our premises expedited. This was withdrawn from your vault at no charge to yourself."
The two goblins escorted Harry to the entrance foyer, where Tonks and Remus were waiting for him.
"Harry, what?" Remus began.
"No time, Moony. We're leaving." Harry was staying a step ahead of the goblins, but only by moving with some haste.
It was with no small amount of concern that the remaining members of the Order of the Phoenix witnessed the three who had entered the bank, leaving it at a rapid rate followed by a small phalanx of goblin guards who moved to secure the door against return entry.
Sitting under the awning of Florean Fortescue's parlour, Hermione Granger muttered the thought passing through many of their minds, "Oh Harry, what have you gotten us into this time?"
Harry brushed off any comment about the box, saying it was an inheritance, and that the goblins had been excited about something happening down in the vaults.
Which all led him to the present day. Two days until the new school year began.
He had initially ignored the box until, out of boredom, he had opened it.
Inside were a small stack of diaries.
The research diaries of Grindewaldt himself.
Harry had been horrified, but in the same way one cannot help but stare at a car crash, he found himself fascinated.
So he had read them.
Harry was horrified. The implications of Grindwaldt's research. If there is any truth to this. What it means for me. I need Hermione.
Harry had arrived early for once, as his Uncle had an important client for a lunch meeting, and wanted plenty of time to cool down after getting rid of 'the freak' for another year. Boarding the train, he swiftly sequestered himself in one of the rear compartments, closing the blind to secure some privacy for a while as he considered how he would proceed.
Hermione, Ron and Neville had met up on the platform, waited until the last whistle looking out for Harry, before scrambling aboard the train.
"I'm worried, Ron. It's not like Harry to miss the Hogwarts Express," Hermione was checking each compartment for Harry as she led the others through the train.
"He'll probably meet us at the other end, maybe Dumbledore took him to Hogwarts early. It's Harry, he'll be fine," Ron reasoned while dragging his trunk down the aisle. He paused and looked at Hermione, "Where's your trunk?"
"In my pocket. I shrunk it while we were looking for Harry," Hermione closed another compartment door.
Ron shared a look with Neville, "Would you look at that, Harry has been a good influence on her. Should we be expecting a Ministry Owl for you, Hermione? Using magic out of school?"
"Platform nine and three quarters, and the Hogwarts Express both fall under the Aegis of the Treaty of Hogwarts, and are considered part of the school by extension," She snorted scornfully back at Ron. "Otherwise our biannual tiffs with Malfoy would have attracted a lot more attention."
A commotion up ahead drew their attention. The flash of spells flying out of a compartment at the far end of the train, followed by the thump of a body falling out of said compartment.
"As I was saying," Hermione sounding satisfied with her argument led the way down the train to the offending compartment.
Another body fell out of the compartment as they approached, followed by the quite distinctive thud of Draco Malfoy hurtling through the air and into the wall opposite the compartment's door. The door then shut.
"See?" Hermione looked back at Ron, who was grinning, calmly stepped on Draco, and opened the door. "Harry?"
Harry had been working himself up into a bit of a state trying to figure out what to say to his friends when Draco had burst into the compartment with his minions.
"Awww, Potty all on his own? Looks like everyone has finally realised what a menace you are, Potter. Getting your Dogfather kil…"
The starburst flash of a dozen red stunners leaping out of Harry's wand cut off Draco's diatribe suddenly. Goyle, at the rear, fell out of the compartment. Harry was not so fortunate with the other two, but a quick levitation charm fixed that.
He had just settled down again when his door opened.
Hermione was looking down the length of Harry's wand at a very exasperated wizard.
"Ah, sorry, come in." Harry withdrew his wand.
"No problem Harry," Hermione waved for the other two and sat down beside Harry. "We didn't see you on the platform, and were getting a little worried."
Ron, after a brief pause to put the boot into Malfoy a couple of times, entered the compartment. "Hi Harry."
Neville followed close behind, only needing to kick Malfoy once. "Harry."
"Ron, Neville." Harry nodded to them, before taking his wand and casting a few locking and security charms on the door, walls, floor and especially the window.
The other three just watched Harry with varying degrees of bemusement.
"Constant Vigilance and all that rot, huh Harry?" Ron chuckled.
Harry turned bloodshot eyes on his friends. "I haven't slept more than an hour a night since a few days after our trip to Diagon Alley."
Hermione gasped, "Is it Vol-vol…Him?"
Harry barked out a bitter cynical laugh. "Voldemort?" He snapped scornfully, "No, Tom has almost nothing to do with this."
The other three watched Harry warily; this was a new mood from their old friend.
Harry shook his head, "No, Voldy is only peripherally involved. No, this one involves me, and Neville and Ginny to an extent." He took Hermione's hand, placing something gold into it.
"What is…?" She held up a golden pin, an eagle clasping a swastika in its claws. She cast a worried look at Harry. "What is this?"
"A symbol, in fact, a genuine piece of history. That is a shielding brooch, enchanted and worn by none less than Heinrich Luitpold Himmler himself."
Hermione dropped it as if burned by it, "Himmler? He was a wizard?"
The other two boys shrugged to each other.
"He was Grindewaldt."
At that, the colour drained from the faces of Ron and Neville, and they found themselves backing away from the pin.
Harry picked it up. "There's more. But I think it can wait until we can be somewhere a little more secure."
The others nodded, and the trip passed in uncomfortable silence.
Deep in the castle of Hogwarts, an ancient ward detected the passage of a powerful dark item into the castle and, as it had done so many times in the last few years, alerted the High Magist's quarters of the event…unfortunately, it had been nearly three centuries since the Headmaster of Hogwarts had presided from that room, so the alert went unheard once again.
The sorting and welcoming feast had passed uneventfully, even including the introduction of new Professors. The prefects led the new first years up to Gryffindor tower, and after putting them to bed, promptly held a meeting.
"Has anyone seen the Golden Trio since the feast?" Katie was a little worried.
"It's too early in the year for anything to be happening…yet. Isn't it?" Dean started off sounding confident, but lost it towards the end.
Colin came up from the dorms, "Their trunks aren't here."
Panic quietly settled through the House of Lions.
The inside of the Room of Requirement was glowing from the powerful secrecy wards lining it.
"Okay Harry, It doesn't get much more secure than this. Spill." Hermione looked as agitated as she felt.
Harry sat heavily on the couch he had conjured. "Have you heard of a man, a muggle, named Friedrich Nietzsche? He was actually a friend of Grindewaldt's, or at least they were in regular correspondance."
Hermione nodded. The other two shrugged.
"Nietzsche had this idea. 'That which does not destroy me, only makes me stronger.' It was an idea that appealed to Grindewaldt, who spent the next couple of decades studying it."
Hermione's mind was racing, trying to follow where Harry was leading.
"Many things resulted from this research." Harry looked at the three before him, "Did you know that when a witch has a child by cesarian section, the child is almost inevitably a squib. Or that a long, painful, difficult birth always produces a stronger than average wizard."
"The trauma of birth influences the potential strength of the witch or wizard?" Hermione looked thoughtful.
"I did some research on our esteemed Headmaster. He is a twin, their mother died in childbirth…after a sixteen hour labour," Harry continued, "At about the age of fourteen they stumbled upon a dark artifact that siphoned off their magic for the better part of three years, before it was nullified. The net result, stronger than average wizards."
"How do you know all this Harry?" Ron asked.
Harry ignored the question, "Another end result of this research was that…"
"Magical children who suffer signifigant trauma to their magic will become stronger." Hermione spoke with authority.
"I just put it together, you mentioned Ginny earlier."
Harry nodded, "There's more to that though, any trauma will enhance the power of the magical child."
Hermione turned white, "No."
"The final discovery, was the Cruciatus curse."
"Why are you telling us all of this, Harry?" Neville asked.
Harry turned haunted eyes on his friends, "Because Grindewaldt developed a procedure that could well win the war for the Light. With this procedure we could become the fighting force needed to defeat Voldemort once and for all."
"What is the problem then? Why the dramatics?" Ron looked as confused as he sounded.
"The problem, Ron, is that…" Hermione faltered.
"Is that we would need to have the Cruciatus cast on us." Harry sighed, "And we would have to cast it on our friends as well. The Cruciatus was never intended as a torture spell the way the Death Eaters use it. It was designed to stress the mind, nervous system and magical core of a still developing magical child, to promote their development. A structured regimen of indoctrination, exercise, medical potions and Cruciatus was used to create Grindewaldt's superwizards."
Hermione was shaking her head in denial.
"I have all of his notes, everything. We could easily recreate his work," Harry was barely whispering.
Neville leapt to his feet, "It's an Unforgivable. Harry, you know what that curse did to my parents. How can you consider this?"
"Where did you get this, this abomination?" Hermione was white as a sheet.
"Sit down, I'm not finished," Harry spoke, authority in his voice.
Neville slowly sat, the other two just watched.
"I have reason to believe that both Dumbledore and Voldemort are aware of this research. Aware of it's thrust, but not the specifics."
"Explain," Neville demanded.
"Tom Riddle was briefly a part of the project, as a child, and was thus aware of what was being done to him. But, being only a child at the time, he never understood. He only remembers the pain of the Cruciatus, and that it was supposed to make him stronger. Fast forward to the present, and Voldemort uses the Cruciatus to both punish his followers and…"
"And make them stronger. Great Merlin, this is terrible," Ron slumped forward in despair.
"That can't be right, the leStrange's tortured my parents into insanity with the Cruciatus, it didn't make them stronger," Neville frowned.
"I said Voldemort's knowledge was incomplete. He, obviously, never learned that it only works on a developing magical core. He is just injuring his own people." Harry frowned, "Dumbledore, on the other hand, must have found a better source of information. He seems to know that pain and trauma create stronger wizards."
"Dumbledore would never…" Hermione began, only to be cut off by Harry.
"Last year, how many of us were tortured by Umbridge's Blood Quill? The general mayhem in the halls? The year before, the Tri-Wizard Cup? I fought a Bloody DRAGON! The year before that we spent most of the year under a constant low-level exposure to Dementors. Second year, one word: Basilisk!"
"We get the point Harry."
"No, I don't think you do. I was abused, beaten, assaulted, demeaned and treated worse than a Malfoy house elf, ALL MY LIFE. The only reason I am even alive is because accidental magic would heal all my injuries overnight, which would only result in more beatings."
"Dumbledore couldn't have known…"
"Then I get to Hogwarts, and find myself in a constant fight for my life. What kind of school fosters open warfare in the halls between houses? How often is there brawling between Slytherin and Gryffindor? Every few days. How often does someone end up in the hospital wing? Wing! There is a fifty bed hospital for a school this size? Muggle schools five times larger have a two bed first aid station!" Harry was up and pacing back and forth.
"Have you noticed that only us Gryffindors are on the receiving end of all this? When the Slytherins are dealing out the curses theres never a professor in sight, but the moment we retalliate, Snape materialises. Dumbledore knows."
"Huh? I don't follow," Ron muttered.
"Spell damage makes you stronger. Strong Gryffindors is okay, but strong Slytherins will just turn into strong Death Eaters. Snapes job is to make life easy for the Slytherins so they don't grow stronger, and to make the other houses suffer so they do grow stronger. Potion making doesn't foster the growth of the magical core, so it is a safe avenue to direct the future Death Eaters into."
All three friends blinked at Harry's theory.
"Can we think on this, Harry?" Hermione asked quietly.
Harry nodded, "Sure, get back to me tomorrow."
Hermione and Ron left, glancing back momentarily at Neville, who was staring hard at Harry.
As soon as the door shut, "I will want to read these notes myself."
Harry smiled, "Of course, especially since I'm going to need your help for quite a bit of this."
Neville raised an eyebrow.
"Procuring, growing and harvesting herbs for the many potions we are going to need."
Neville nodded his head slowly.
Harry clasped wrists with the other boy, "Welcome aboard, Brother."
Harry gave his friends some space through the next day, causing a near panic amongst the other Gryffindors, but finally joining them once more for dinner in the great hall.
"Well?" Harry sat down beside Hermione, and began helping himself to the food before him.
Hermione smiled sadly, "When have I not supported you? Of course I'm in."
Harry smiled, "But you want to read the notes yourself. Neville said the same thing."
"Murgle murmph breagh…" Ron spluttered from the other side of the table.
Half the table just stared at him.
Ron swallowed, "Sorry. Count me in." He grabbed the last sausage and had it in his mouth before anyone could object.
The rest of the table just watched them.
Harry and Neville were the last to return to Gryffindor Tower that night, having to dodge Snape had meant a much longer detour.
They entered the common room to find the entire house awake and waiting for them.
"They want a house meeting," Ron shrugged.
"We want to know whats going on, Harry. Is it the DA all over again?" Seamus called out.
Harry scanned the crowd for a moment. "I have a plan."
Cheers and shouts drowned him out for a few moments.
Waving his hands for attention, Harry shouted, "QUIET." Nodding to himself, he continued, "I will accept volunteers from any year, even you firsties. However, you must all agree, here and now, to accept a oath of secrecy or a memory charm if you choose to not take part in my plan. We are at war, a few precautions now will save lives later."
A quiet murmur broke out in the room.
Harry let it go for a few minutes, "Don't give me your answer now, I'll leave a sign in sheet on the board, if you want to volunteer you may do so at any time. Our first meeting will be Saturday morning in the same place we held the DA meetings. Firsties will gather here and I will escort you to the meeting. Goodnight." With that Harry went straight to his dorm, and bed.
Parvati and Lavender were reading the 'sign in sheet' the next morning.
"Looks like the DA one from last year," Lavender whispered.
"But nastier, Hermione outdid herself this time," Parvati nodded.
Both girls made a show of signing, then went down to the great hall for breakfast.
They were the first of many.
Saturday morning found the entirety of Gryffindor house down in the great hall having breakfast early, in fact most were finished and leaving before the early risers of Ravenclaw began to drift in. By the time the first of the professors arrived, the last of Gryffindor were long gone.
The interior of the Room of Requirement was much as it had been the last time Harry had held a meeting there, massively excessive security wards lit the walls. This time, though, the room was set up as a Roman or Greek style amphitheatre surrounding a lectern at the centre.
Harry nodded with approval as he guided the firsties in.
After everyone was settled, Hermione stood behind the lectern, addressing the group. "Thank you all for coming, but according to my record, four of you haven't signed the sheet yet. Including you Luna." She smiled up at the Ravenclaw girl, and passed the sheet up to the nearest.
After they had all signed, she returned to the lectern. "As many of you might have guessed, you just signed a binding magical contract. After hearing Harry's presentation, if any of you wish to withdraw, you have consented to having the entirety of this meeting replaced by a pleasant walk around the lake with a memory charm."
A shocked murmur rippled around the amphitheatre.
Harry stood up, taking Hermione's place. Silence fell upon the room.
"Voldemort. Will. Win." Harry paused to gauge the reactions, "Unless we take the fight to him. Sitting here and hoping the Ministry will do something is tantamount to suicide. Likewise, rushing out to fight him with an untrained bunch of children is asking for a massacre."
His audience was on the verge of revolt.
"I have found a means by which we can bridge the gap. A way to turn children into soldiers. Because, face it. We are at WAR! And you need soldiers to fight a war."
A loud cheer swelled up from the gathered Lions.
As it died down, one of the seventh years stood up. "Enough jollying, Harry, give us the deal."
Harry nodded, "Volunteers will be required to learn a list of spells, take a series of potion supplements, and undergo a regimen of magical treatments and exercises. I'm not going to sugarcoat this. It WILL hurt. But at the end you will be amongst the most powerful witches and wizards in the world."
"Do the professors know about this?" Someone yelled out.
Harry scanned the crowd slowly, "No. Nor will they find out. What we are doing here is Illegal. No two ways about it. Azkaban is the cost of discovery this year. Thus the secrecy."
"Mainly because we are going to be using the procedure developed by the Dark Lord Grindewaldt when he created his army of Super Wizards."
The entire room fell silent.
"You want to turn us all into Dark Wizards?" "How could you Harry?" "We trusted you Harry." The shouting went on for a few minutes, and several people tried to escape, only to find they couldn't.
The room fell silent once more.
"Thank you. For the record, quite a number of those super wizards fought against Grindewaldt, including a well known Supreme Mugwump." Harry stared at those still standing untill they returned to their seats. "Or you could go back to your normal life and learn Defence Against the Dark Arts from Professor SNAPE!"
He looked from face to face, "I thought not. Those of you who do not want to take part, please wait in that room there." Harry pointed at a blue door that had just appeared.
About a dozen, mostly seventh years, left through the blue door.
"Harry? What happens to them?" A second year boy asked.
"The main reason we were not interrupted by the professors today, is that this room acts like a giant time turner. Out there, most of us are still heading down to breakfast. Those guys are going to forget this meeting happened and go for a walk around the lake as soon as breakfast is over."
Several more from various years stood up, apologised to Harry, and left through the blue door.
"Anyone else? No? Good. In twenty minutes this meeting will be over, and with it your last chance to back out. After that, you are in for life." Harry smiled sadly, "Any questions?"
"This room isn't going to cut it for security, Harry. What are you going to do?" Katie asked him later, after the bulk of the group had left to enjoy their Saturday.
"There is only one other location in the castle that Dumbles can't monitor." Harry said thoughtfully.
"The Chamber of Secrets?" Ginny asked.
"He may not be able to see it, but he can see the entrance," Hermione said.
Harry looked up, and concentrated. As they watched a glimmering portal appeared before them.
Harry smiled and gestured towards it, "The Chamber. Shall we?" He stepped through the portal and vanished.
Hermione, Ron, Ginny, Luna, Katie, and Neville looked at each other, shrugged, and filed through.
Moments after the last of them stepped through, the portal disappeared.
"Hey Harry? How are we going to get back?" Ron inquired, looking around at the gloomy chamber.
"The portal will reappear in half an hour. Don't worry."
"This feels familiar," Hermione muttered.
The seven of them explored the chamber for about twenty minutes, before gathering once more.
"I think we can still harvest that basilisk, sale of it's parts would contribute to our war chest," Hermione opened the discussion.
"The war chest is handled, but it probably wouldn't hurt," At their look Harry added, "Grindewaldt left me a mountain of gold along with his books, I suspect he didn't much like the look of his successor."
"We can reshape this place, set up the athletic equipment, clean up that water and shunt it into a single Olympic size pool…" Hermione was pointing out features as she went.
"Where are we going to get the potions? Our own lab?" Ginny asked.
"We could…if someone was willing to stay down here brewing all day every day."
"What about Fred and George? They're good with potions," Ron said thoughtfully.
Everyone nodded. Then Katie added, "Assuming they can be trusted not to prank us."
The portal reappeared, and they filed back to the Room of Requirement.
The group broke up after that.
More will come...dependant upon my fleeting muse, of course...